He thought that Janine and Tim were asleep in the guest room, so Charlie turned the silver knob on the record player down low before placing the needle. The blues crawled out of the speakers. Ever since Charlie first brought Tim to his father’s Nantucket home years ago, his friend had preferred the surround sound in the basement. Janine, on the other hand, loved the record player. She said she liked the solid feel of the sound.
Janine appeared in the doorway. She was holding a bowl of blueberries, its plastic wrap cover ripped through the middle.
"Are we dancing?" she asked, then crossed the room to put the bowl down on the table next to the record player. With a slow turn of the volume knob she made the music louder. She smelled like last night's shower and sweat and a trace of men’s cologne.
"Where did you come from?" he said. He nudged the music down, not wanting Tim to wake up.
Janine weaved her head and hips side to side like a puppet untangling its strings. Shadows wavered below her eyes; in a few hours she would flame out and fall back to sleep. On the drive down to the ferry, she had dozed off, her head dropping onto his shoulder. Tim had looked up from the road to make a joke about drawing on her face.
She moved toward him, her feet following the whispered patterns of the drumbeats on the floorboards. Her engagement ring swayed on the silver chain around her neck, where she had strung it the day before to keep it from getting lost on the beach.
"I'm hung over," he said, backing off. He eased into his father’s armchair. Its leather flesh clung to him in the heat.
Janine’s hands clapped down on her thighs.
"Is this it then, Charlie?" she asked. She turned the volume all the way up and yelled, “Can we not have fun anymore?" Her voice was teasing, but the question glowed at the centers of her eyes.
A harmonica took over the song. The sound felt like the falling of night. He stood up, gripped by the hope that he could move beneath the wailing tone and touch her without being seen.
Tim walked into the study in his underwear. Without pausing, he stalked across the room toward the record player. "Don't you people ever sleep?" he said. He turned the music down with a violent counterclockwise twist of his hand.
Janine leaned against the table. She said to Tim, "You better stay up. I'm making pancakes.”
“Well come get me when they're ready, and not a goddamn second sooner." He gave Charlie a wry grin.
"Or I can always just leave you there," she said.
Charlie knew this was not true. She would serve Tim his pancakes first and Charlie second and herself last. But when Tim slammed the door behind him, she turned the music back up. The sound covered the room.